Don't knock the Eighties. There is plenty to thank them for

Cars in those days were brash but superbly made. That's why James Ruppert drives a 1985 Mark 2 Gold GTi

In case you hadn't noticed, the Eighties have made a comeback. The media are pumping out articles, books and TV programmes telling us all how greedy, naff and naughty it all was.

But in purely automotive terms there is lots to thank the Eighties for. It was almost the last chance for cars to be uncompromised, unapologetic, and as a result they were full of real character. A roll-call of hooligan supercars for the newly monied masses includes the hottest hatchback of them all, the Lancia Integrale. Developed to win international rallies, which it did, the surplus was released at the end of the decade to an appreciative buying public. John Whalley, a Lancia specialist, explains: "The demand for these models is incredible. Where else could you buy a car like this for pounds 10,000?"

A turbo charger, with four-wheel drive and racing pedigree don't come cheap. Unless that is you prefer the common or garden looks of a Ford Sierra with the outrageous performance of a Cosworth. Insurance problems aside, these saloon cars come with the obligatory turbo and four-wheel drive hardware, but at Ford Fiesta prices. The classifieds turn up several examples at between pounds 4,000 and pounds 6,000.

Best of all, the Eighties was when the hot hatch wars reached meltdown. Every manufacturer jumped on the marketing bandwagon by glueing GTi on the tailgate, but dynamically plenty were a let down. The French in particular responded enthusiastically to the challenge of putting dangerously exciting things into ever smaller packages. Hence the terrifying quick Renault 5 GT Turbo and the fragile, but fun, 205 GTi. The demand for these cars is now stronger than ever.

Wandering around car dealers in SW19 is like slipping back to the Eighties. At the Independent Motor Company, there were 13 Peugeot 205 GTis and just two of them made this decade. Prices from pounds 2,000 to pounds 4,000, while a couple of 5GT Turbos could be bought for under pounds 3,000. Over at nearby Tudor Price there were more Peugeots, some Fiat Uno Turbos - an underrated if flimsy hot hatch - and one of the last Renault 5GT Turbos. On sale for pounds 5,000, it looks brand new.

Above all though, the Eighties was the golden age of German motors. I should know, because I sold BMW 3 series by the showroom full. That iconic car has never looked, performed, or been built better. In those days an M3 really was an M3, all exotic left-hand drive, tearaway looks and an engine donated by a Formula 1 car. Prices of original M3s are climbing as buyers of new models discover how lacking in character they are. At L&C in Tunbridge Wells a 1988 model seemed expensive, pounds 13,9995, but interest was running high.

Over in Stuttgart during the "greed is good" decade the Porsche 911 hit a sort of inflationary spiral, as turbo versions tickled six-figure values. By contrast the 944 went quietly about its business as the work hard, play hard car. You don't have to be a banker to drive one either, running costs are containable and reliability is excellent. Michael Ticehurst, a Porsche specialist, offers to find me a nice 944 for between pounds 8,000 to pounds 12,000. I'm tempted.

Even normally sober German manufacturers like Audi and Mercedes came up with models which quickened the pulse. There was the four-wheel drive and turbocharged Audi Quattro Turbo, a coupe with real character. Mercedes had its own upmarket version of the Sierra Cosworth with the 190 16V. But the best Teutonic thing about the Eighties was the Volkswagen golf GTI.

Butt of a million Sloaney gags, it was the best hot hatch ever built, which is why I drive a 1985 Mark 2 Gold GTI. Just to make sure I borrowed an original 1979 example and the latest 1996 model. The Seventies Golf was borrowed from Tim Stiles Racing in Somerset. On sale for pounds 2,500 it was in superb condition, proving to be fast, noisy and fun. The new Nineties GTI was slow, soft and soporific. Only my own '85 on a 'B' GTI combined fun with refinement. According to Tim Stiles, demand for the older GTI is such that he is rebuilding them to customer specifications, with prices starting at pounds 10,000.

I am not alone in sticking to Eighties cars. A friend with a five-figure buying budget can't find a Nineties car to replace his 1986 BMW M5, so he's not going to bother. The evidence against Nineties cars is overwhelming. Build quality is worse, both VW and BMW experienced problems with their new 3 series and Golf. Nineties cars have lots of superfluous electronics and gadgets waiting to go wrong. Not surprisingly, used values of all the most sought-after Eighties models are firm and, in some cases, rising.

John Whalley Ltd 01279 654181; Independent Motor Co 0181-542 9863; Tudor Price 0181-540 7242; L&C 01892 540 7242; Michael Ticehurst 01491 680911; Tim Stiles Racing 01278 45036

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine